Monday, April 22, 2019

Inspiring MG Novel Lauds the Power of Friendship

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Gabriel Haberlin's life is already pretty great, but when he gets a shiny new bicycle for his 12th birthday it gets even better.  He's taking his present for a spin around little Birdsong, South Carolina, when he comes face-to-face (tire-to-tire?) with the town's worst driver.  Just as Gabriel starts to fret that his 12th birthday will be his last, someone rushes in front of the speeding car and pushes Gabriel out of the way.  The stranger, a black man named Meriwether Hunter, not only saves Gabriel's life but he also fixes up his mangled bicycle so it looks as good as new. 

Wanting to repay Meriwether's kindness, Gabriel talks his father into hiring the fix-it man to work at his auto shop.  Not everyone in the segregated town is happy with that hiring decision, but Gabriel is thrilled with the opportunity to get to know Meriwether better.  When he finds out the black man's intriguing secret, Gabriel becomes even more fascinated with his new pal.  If more people knew about Meriwether's war service and heroism, surely they would treat him better.  But, even in small, safe Birdsong secrets and forbidden friendships are dangerous things, things that will open Gabriel's eyes in ways they've never been opened before ...

The Unsung Hero of Birdsong, USA, by Brenda Woods is a touching, thought-provoking novel about growing up and facing the sometimes ugly truths that can exist in even the most placid of places.  It's a story about finding hidden depths, both in yourself and other people.  The tale, which features an interesting historical setting, likable characters, and tight prose, also teaches many valuable lessons about friendship, family, and forming one's own opinions in spite of what anyone else might think.  It's an enjoyable and important book that's easy to read, but difficult to forget.  

(Readalikes:  Reminds me a bit of Jericho Walls by Kristi Collier)

Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for violence and disturbing subject matter

To the FTC, with love:  I bought a copy of The Unsung Hero of Birdsong, USA, from Amazon with a portion of the millions I make from my lucrative career as a book blogger.  Ha ha.

2 comments:

  1. I like the sound of this one, and I haven't read any middle grade fiction yet this year, so I'm past due. :D

    ReplyDelete
  2. Sounds like this one has good messages that blend with history of a segregated south. Super interesting and good for middle grade kids to read.

    ReplyDelete

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